Create a Healing Shrine

June 6, 2013

Making handmade jewelry for someone is a unique and inspiring way to show you care.  This “Healing Shrine” was created for a friend suffering from cancer.  It was inspired by our new brass “window” blank shapes and a recent trip to Santa Fe, NM.

Sondra Barrington Memory Jewelry An antique brass "Healing Shrine" created for a friend suffering from cancer. The glass vial is filled with 'holy dirt' from a sacred site purported to have healing powers.

Healing Shrine

Each year, thousands of people pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo seeking blessings.  Many visitors take a small amount of “holy dirt” from the site, in hopes of a miraculous cure for themselves or someone who could not make the trip.  I chose to encase my “holy dirt” in a glass portal, that I nested inside a brass reliquary.  Following are instructions for how-to create this DIY jewelry design using stacked brass layers and cold connections.

First, envision your shrine and decide how you want it to look and feel.  Decide on contents for your glass bottle.  Unscrew the top loop from the cork in the glass vial.  Measure, mark and punch holes for rivets (using the small side of the hole punch).

Stamp word “heal” on the metal band designed to hold the glass vial.  Measure the band to ensure that it is going to fit.

Measure metal band to fit glass vial

Measure and bend metal band to fit glass vial

Using bail making pliers, bend the center of the band into a curved shape, leaving each end flat.  Cut to shorten as needed.  File the ends.

Arrange pieces and punch metal Sondra Barrington Memory Jewelry

Arrange pieces and punch metal

Rivet the stamped metal band into place after double-checking that it will snugly hold the glass once it is assembled.

Punch holes and rivet band to hold bottle

Rivet the band into place (to hold the vial)

Insert tube rivets in holes between the front and back of shrine, stacking copper heishi trade beads between the layers (to fill the space and strengthen the connection between the top and bottom layers).

Use metal heishi beads as spacers between the layers of metal.

Heishi beads as spacers between layers Sondra Barrington Memory Jewelry

  Rivet them into place.  Note: Be careful, it is very difficult to reinstall the heishi spacer beads if they fall off the tubes!

Place all metal heishis before riveting back panel into place

Place all  heishi beads before riveting together Sondra Barrington Memory Jewelry

Patina and clean.  Using two-part epoxy, attach a magnet to the back side of the shrine.  Carefully fill vial with contents.

Fill the bottle and install it into reliquary Sondra Barrington Memory Jewelry

Fill the vial and pop it into place

Once the glue has cured, pop the glass vial inside the band.  This DIY jewelry project can be a pendant, magnet or pin.

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